What is 'Health Care Engagement'?

Being engaged in our own health care means having a high degree of Health Literacy. The US Department of Health defines Health Literacy:

Health literacy is the degree to which individuals have the capacity to obtain, process, and understand basic health information and services needed to make appropriate health decisions.
 Health literacy encompasses aspects of traditional literacy: the ability to read text effectively and to understand numbers, units of measure and carry out basic calculations. Engagement also encompasses our ability to navigate the health system, to ask questions when necessary, to make informed decisions and to participate as a member of your own health care team.
In Canada, 40% of us don't have the literacy levels necessary to operate effectively in our day-to-day lives. In First Nations communities, 60% of us don't have high enough literacy skills.
When it comes to health literacy, the numbers are similar - except that in senior populations, 88% of us don't have basic health literacy skills to navigate the system (Public Health Agency of Canada).

Why is it Important?

Without strong health literacy skills, patients are unable to engage effectively in their own health care or advocate as a caregiver.

As health care continues to become more complex and the population ages, being engaged will become increasingly important. Patients and families often find themselves in a situation they are unprepared to deal with, and this can result in poor outcomes for both patients and families.

How Can We Better Engage?

Patients and families need timely access to understandable and useful resources and effective training on how to use them.

From my own experience, I've seen how and where patients and families struggle with outdated and incomprehensible materials that aren't designed to help them learn and implement basic caregiving tasks. I've found some excellent resources, but only long after I needed them, and only as part of my research into creating my own support materials.

Better health care engagement will begin when we start to take support and training of patients and families more seriously.



I Can Help!

I have a background in science research as well as teaching. I have worked with Adult Learners, including adults struggling with literacy who need plain-language materials.

  • Review of current program materials and training/support programs
  • Editing/updating of current materials
  • Redesign of current training/support programs
  • Training of training/support program facilitators